I've had the wonderful opportunity to work as a Fellow at Soccer Without Borders in Baltimore this summer, and I have loved every second of it. My experience thus far has been eye-opening, heart-warming, and most of all, inspiring. The SWB community is is incredibly welcoming and connecting with the students has been very rewarding. SWB very thoughtfully uses soccer as a tool to teach these kids the importance of respect, inclusivity, compassion, and leadership. I have loved witnessing some of the students grow in their English skills and watching their personalities blossom just in the few months that I have known them. This opportunity has also provided me with a lot of knowledge as to what the process looks like for refugee/asylee/immigrant families upon their arrival, and this has allowed me to be a great source of information for any other newcomer families I know who are in need of assistance. SWB and all of the students here have inspired me tremendously, and I am grateful for the experiences I have had here!
I started volunteering with SWB Oakland's U14 boys team in the fall of 2017, just after I relocated to the Bay Area. I wanted to get involved with the community, serve as a mentor, and have fun playing soccer! Over the past year, I've helped the team on game days, driving kids to the field, bringing snacks, and being an adult friend and mentor.
I started with high expectations, but never anticipated the amazing kinship, gratitude, and respect I would develop while serving in the program. The kids involved with SWB are some of the hardest working, courageous, and funniest people I've met in my life, and it has been an honor to play with them, mentor them, and grow with them over the past year. The SWB staff is equally as amazing. They are passionate, devoted, and truly care about the kids in the program. I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to work with this awesome group of people, big and small, and I'm looking forward to helping for many seasons to come!
I started volunteering with Soccer Without Borders in Boston last spring, and was searching for a volunteer opportunity that would allow me to share my love of soccer with children and adolescents. It has definitely done that, and far more. Working with the middle school girls is truly one of the highlights of my week. SWB not only teaches them how to play soccer, but also provides them with friendship, academic support, role models, and fun, often hilarious memories that will last a lifetime. As a nurse-midwife who primarily works with immigrant and refugee women, I know how difficult it can be for children, particularly adolescents and teenagers, to settle in to a new country. SWB helps ease some of that difficulty, and provides them with a safe space to share their struggles, triumphs, hopes, and dreams. It is amazing to see how empowered the girls feel after just a few successes in practice, be it learning a new skill, scoring a goal, or making a new friend. I highly recommend Soccer Without Borders to anyone who loves the sport, is passionate about youth development and immigrant rights, and has a heart for children.
I volunteered in 2017 with the Soccer Without Borders program in Nicaragua. This program is a true home to so many people, ranging from the players, coaches, and members of the Granada community, to volunteers like myself who had the opportunity to be welcomed there for a year. SWB is a model example of how to empower local communities, promote cultural exchange, and push for positive social change. I am so grateful to have had the chance to connect with and learn from its members and participants, and to be part of the Soccer Without Borders family.
Ask any young person who participates in SWB in Baltimore, Oakland, Boston, Colorado, Seattle, Uganda, or Nicaragua what SWB means to them, and they will say “family”. And that’s what it means to me too. I started with SWB Baltimore as an intern, coaching soccer and doing research on newcomer trends. I then shifted to Academic Director, overseeing all of our academic programming for middle and high schoolers. Then I left my official job at SWB to go to grad school. But here I am 3 years later and 3000 miles away serving on the advisory board of SWB’s newest site - Seattle.
SWB impacts young people in the most holistic sense. It’s a place where newcomers make friends, practice English, learn to navigate a new country, and can ultimately flourish into the best versions of themselves.
And on the day after the international day of the girl, I am especially happy and proud of the work SWB is doing to empower young women to be strong, confident, and badass on and off the soccer pitch.
I know I’ll remember my work with SWB as the most valuable work I’ve ever done.
I first became involved with Soccer Without Borders in Boston as one of the coaches on their middle school boys teams. SWB is an amazing youth focused organization with strong ties to the communities they serve. The level of engagement and care and concern of the stuff for the kids is unmatched in all of my volunteer experience. As I transitioned from Boston to Seattle I jumped at the chance to stay involved with the organization as they began to set up a new program in Seattle. SWB is truly a benefit for the kids involved and the communities they serve. I'm glad SWB continues to grow and help more youth and am looking forward to contributing to their continued growth and impact.
Soccer Without Borders is the most fulfilling volunteer experience I've ever had. I've coached youth soccer in other leagues, have tutored ESL students, and have worked with DC high school kids to help prepare them for college, but my time with SWB is truly incomparable. The coaches are incredibly welcoming, encouraging, and kind, and the kids - while they can at times be a handful! - bring me so much joy. It's a privilege to get to be a part of their journey growing up and playing soccer in the US. As a volunteer, I help run drills at practice, and come to the games when I can to cheer them on. It's great that there are uniforms (jerseys, shorts, socks) provided for all of the players and real league games with official referees and scorekeeping - it's not just scrimmages.
Every time I'm with the team, I have interactions with the kids that make me laugh or warm my heart. That's not to say it isn't often hard too - they've got a lot of energy, and the group I help out with (U-14 boys) at times likes to test the limits with authority. But that's all part of it, and every moment is worth it. The players seem to really enjoy coming to practices and games, and have really good relationships with SWB staff. Highly recommend :)
I volunteered for SWB 3 years ago and it was the best experience of my life. I met wonderful people including the staff, other volunteers and the girls of this camp, all of whom I still talk to today. SWB gave me a new outlook on life and taught me so much more than just soccer drills. Living with my host family and immersing myself into their culture was an experience I still treasure to this day and will never forget!
As a volunteer in Granada, Nicaragua several years ago, I had the opportunity to play a small part in the huge amount of work that SWB (aka Futbol sin Fronteras) does in Nicaragua. Witnessing the personal, academic, and athletic growth in the girls served by the program was an incredible experience. The Nicaragua staff running and serving the program are so dedicated to their girls and the mission of the organization!
I had an absolutely amazing experience with Soccer Without Borders. The work they do makes such a positive impact on the girls involved and on the community as a whole. I’m so grateful that I got the opportunity to spend time in Nicaragua with such a great organization and great people!
I worked with Soccer Without Borders while completing my Masters degree at Johns Hopkins. It was the most welcoming and fun environment, and I learned so much from the students. The coaches really know what they’re doing and care so much about the program, so it’s an infectious attitude and you can’t help get swept up in it! I’d highly recommend volunteering or interning with this organization if given the opportunity.
Absolutely wonderful organization to be a part of. Have worked with SWB in several capacities for almost 2 years now. Friendly, caring staff as well as a great overall mission. Would certainly highly recommend this to any person who asked me about it.
I spent a year (2011-2012) volunteering for SWB in Nicaragua. When I look back, it is still one of the most impactful years of my life. There were lots of ups and downs and very scary moments, but I would do it all again in a heartbeat. It was a wonderful opportunity to empower girls in the community and see them grow in soccer and life. I continue to follow what is happening with the program down there, and I am very happy to hear of their continued efforts in providing quality education for the girls. They are also providing them with opportunities to make their own way in this life and fulfill their dreams. SWB taught me a lot about life and helping others. I am happy to say that I am continuing to help youth in a full-time capacity and using the tools I gained from SWB to guide my efforts.
I have been involved with Soccer without Borders for three unforgettable years. I started three months after I moved from Italy where I spent 10 years of my life as a young immigrant and later as a professional soccer player. There have been lots of wonderful experiences with the SWB family like on my first day at practice at the circle-up when the coach asked everyone to share their names, countries, and favorite teams and soccer players, welcoming everyone and asking them about their journeys. There have also been significant moments at Saturday games or beach days. It has been so rewarding to meet the kids on their first days with SWB, to see them leaving practice alone, and a week later leaving in groups talking and laughing. These moments make me realize how important volunteering with SWB truly is. It gives the kids a home and what they really need: friends, integration into a community, and time to be their genuine selves. I feel very lucky to be a part of this organization accompanying the kids as they develop friendships and soccer skills. It is not only about soccer but also about sharing moments together, building relationships and a strong sense of teamwork, and learning from one another. I hope to be an active participant in the program for many years to come, but whether or not I am able to do so, I will always support this program with all my heart as it has taught me a great deal and supported me when I was a new immigrant myself.
The 17-year-old midfielder on the team I coach works at a fast-food restaurant five days a week but doesn't miss class at the high school that has helped him become fluent in English even though he arrived in the USA just a couple of years ago. The little free time he has is spent playing high-level ball with his Soccer Without Borders team. He is one of hundreds of boys and girls, recent immigrants, asylees and refugees from more than 15 nations, three continents, whom I have met since becoming a Soccer Without Borders volunteer. Many have overcome unimaginable challenges to find a safe environment to grow up in. Soccer Without Borders makes them feel at home -- playing the sport they grew up with and love. They become close friends with their teammates and are mentored by their coaches, who inspire them to continue their studies. I am constantly amazed at the resilience of these youngsters, making their way in a new country, often without their parents ... learning a new language. Play, exercise and camaraderie is something all children need in their lives -- and that is what Soccer Without Borders provides.
I worked as an Intern for the National Office and the East Boston office this past summer. At the National Office I worked on several projects to support coaches and volunteers at all offices. At the East Boston office I was lucky enough to work on programming-related projects as well as on the field with HS girls and younger age groups too. Working with SWB showed me firsthand the importance and impact of using sport as a vehicle for positive social change and of having role models. I learned individuals' stories in a non-intrusive soccer context. SWB fosters relationships between teammates, youth and adults, and within the community in a way I didn't know was possible.
I have been volunteering with Soccer Without Borders this summer in Baltimore. I have never been prouder to volunteer anywhere. Soccer Without Borders creates safe spaces for Baltimore’s refugee/immigrant/asylee youth to express themselves and be respected. Soccer is not only a fun activity for the kids, it is a tool through which they can make friends, learn English, and build leadership skills. Every student is treated with love and respect both on and off the field. Students are always welcome in our office, whether it be to do homework, get help applying for college, or to just hang out and watch a soccer game. Our students know they can come to Soccer Without Borders for help, and frequently do. Soccer WIthout Borders goes above and beyond the task of putting the needs of the youth first and helping them whenever possible. SWB does not turn people away and is constantly striving to keep older kids involved in our programming. I have never worked for a more compassionate or inspiring organization. Getting to know the kids is really rewarding and whether you’re playing around with them on the soccer field or helping a senior apply for college, if you’re looking for an impactful volunteer opportunity that leaves you feeling good afterward, this is it!
I've been volunteering and providing financial assistance to Soccer Without Borders for nearly five years. I continue to be impressed with the professionalism, work ethic, and sincere care in helping children that both the U.S.- and Uganda-based staff exhibit. I believe the programs make a huge difference in people's lives and that SWB's mission is extremely well thought out and executed.
I have been involved with Soccer Without Borders for a few years. I have volunteered at the SWB Kampala Uganda annual Youth Festival three times and I continue to support the organization, and that location specifically, monetarily each month.
To say that I am a big fan of and a huge believer in SWB would be an understatement. From top to bottom I believe the organization is very well run, has the right value structure, and truly "gets" what it means to help and serve others.
I am always impressed with the dedication and professionalism of SWB's staff members—both those in the U.S. and in Uganda. And, as people often say about volunteer opportunities, I get as much, if not more, out of helping and volunteering with SWB than the kids in Uganda that I am assisting. I've made some great friends through SWB and I always look forward to planning and making my next trip to SWB Kampala. How the organization affects the lives of others, in the U.S. and internationally, is astounding.
Simply put, the Soccer Without Borders model is an effective model for social change, facilitation of love, development of the whole individual, and opportunity through the beautiful game. My name is Brad Gieske, and I volunteered at the team camp in Granada, Nicaragua this past week. I am well-traveled and have experienced soccer programs at the structural level in five different countries and many of the states. This program is a vehicle for social inclusion, skill acquisition on and off of the field, and connection to the world as a whole. I really enjoyed the interaction with the local staff and players and appreciate the opportunity to be connected to their lives journeys. The joy in their hearts radiates in their everyday lives. It is almost as if every day is a celebration, and that is something special to hold onto. I am currently working on a blog for the trip to Nicaragua. You can find it at http://www.playbeautifulsoccer.net/nicaragua.html. If you are considering volunteering/working with Soccer Without Borders, I can promise you that your experience will leave your heart full.
I've had the pleasure to have volunteered with Soccer Without Borders since 2008, and I know first hand what an incredible difference they make in the lives of newcomer and refugee youth throughout the USA. I started volunteering as a summer camp soccer coach with SWB in Oakland, CA. The Soccer Without Borders soccer camp was a highlight both of my summers and those of the many incredible children I got to know and coach. In Oakland the camps brought together students who had found their way to California from all parts of the world, We had students from Myanmar, Liberia, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, to name just a few. While their love for soccer brought these children together, SWB's camp was about so much more than soccer. We had activities that helped the kids build community and trust across cultures and languages. Inside the comfortable and safe space of a soccer field, the students also learned more English, found new friends, and discussed how to live a healthy lifestyle, physically and mentally, in their city and neighborhoods. I've watched as SWB has grown and been able to provide more and more opportunities for support in summer and throughout the year. For the fortunate refugees and newcomers who have access to SWB, the organization now provides robust support to them and their families year round.
My favorite moments with SWB always include seeing kids from totally different parts of the world, who share a history of turbulence, upheaval, and trauma, bonding together, laughing, and finding joy in their new home country. This doesn't happen by accident. SWB is so conscientious about how they train their staff and volunteers to run great youth programs and also how to be refugee/newcomer/trauma sensitive. I've also had the chance to see what an impact SWB can make for students over many years. I rejoice when I see that students who I coached almost 10 years ago, who could hardly speak a word of English and felt very shy, are now coaches themselves - helping to promote a program that helped them.
Soccer Without Borders is an incredible nonprofit that is doing amazing work with some of the most vulnerable youth in our country.